Rivers Govt kicks as EFCC probes N117b transactions

Detectives are probing about N117b suspicious transactions by the government of Rivers State in the last three years.

The huge cash was intermittently withdrawn over the counter by a state official designated for the purpose, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) sources said at the weekend.

There were indications that the withdrawals from the state accounts were laundered by some state officials.

The state government yesterday described the probe as a “political witch-hunt” and vowed not to be intimidated.

Four suspects have been shortlisted for interrogation in connection with the massive withdrawals. They include an official in charge of Finance and Accounts at the Government House in Port Harcourt and a cashier.

The EFCC has detained a bank’s Managing Director (MD), who admitted that N5.2billion was realised as charges for the “controversial” transactions.

According to the sources, the withdrawals were made in tranches of N10million with as many as 50 cheques cashed in a day.

The sources said it was a case of “gross violation” of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act of 2011.

One of the sources said: “Based on intelligence report, the EFCC swung into action.

“Our findings indicated that the withdrawals were made in cash from the state accounts mostly by one person. There are no records of what the cash was used for. We are working on clues that it was diverted.

“The EFCC team has obtained all the records of the withdrawals, including date and time. For instance, on June 8, 2015 barely few days in government, about 45 cheques amounting to N450million were cashed over the counter for no justifiable purpose.

“Also, on June 9, 2015 about 50 cheques amounting to N500million were withdrawn. We will soon release the details of findings by our team.”